Something I struggled with a lot while growing up was my hair. For a long, long time, I had no idea how to manage it. I have very thick, dry hair that will frizz out terribly if I brush it. For years on end, I envied girls with straight hair that felt smoother than a baby’s bottom. I asked one girl in my class how she managed to get her hair so soft and she simply said, “I use conditioner.” This was very frustrating for me because I use conditioner too and my hair would never be that soft. Hair isn’t the only thing that ruined my self-esteem. I also felt very self-conscious about my skin, which was covered in acne for about six years.
Eventually, I decided to stop caring about what I look like and wear my hair how it is, frizzy or not. I fell in love with makeup a few years ago and developed a skill for applying it. I gave up on trying to look like everyone else which actually boosted my self-esteem tremendously. It all started with my best friend from fourth grade.
This girl I went to school with probably struggled a lot with insecurity. We weren’t very close in middle or high school, which is the most likely time she would have dealt with that. One day, on our way back from lunch, I was walking behind her and noticed for the first time that she never styled her hair. It was only slightly messy with some pieces straighter than others. I thought to myself, “Why do I never not style my hair?” That night, I washed my hair, let it air dry, and didn’t straighten in the next morning. It was weird not having my hair straightened but I felt very energized the next day since I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to start getting ready for school. I went from straightening my hair every day to straightening it most days to straightening it once in a blue moon. As of today, I don’t think I’ve styled my hair in at least a month. All I do now is let it air dry and pull half of it up into a ponytail so I’m not constantly pushing it out of my face.
When it came to makeup, I struggled way more than I ever did with my hair. The more makeup I wore, the more people commented on my looks without it. Throughout my entire high school career, I only didn’t wear makeup twice. That’s four whole school years of wearing an entire face of makeup. The process of applying it was extremely tiring, but if I didn’t wear it I felt so ugly. People would say stuff like, “Are you okay?” “You look tired,” “Are you sick?” If you wear makeup regularly, you know what I’m talking about. Even adults who have obviously been teenagers and know the struggle would make comments. It was really difficult to hold my tongue because all I wanted to say was, “I do not wake up with makeup already on my face. I have to wake up at 5:30 AM to apply that shit. I am not tired. Leave me alone.”
This past summer, I got a new job and graduated high school. I took this opportunity to stop wearing makeup as often. I had worn tons of makeup to work when I first started, and as I decided to stop, people made comments. Eventually, they stopped too. Everyone else adjusted to what I looked like, and they’ll do that for anybody. I went from taking two hours to get ready to twenty minutes tops and I couldn’t be happier.
All of this comes back to not comparing yourself to others. I styled my hair every day because that’s what other girls did and I didn’t want to be the only one not doing it. The same goes for makeup. Some girls never wore any makeup, but they looked great because they looked the same every day. Once I was able to come to terms with the fact that I need to present myself how I want without taking into consideration other people’s opinions, my life got so much easier. I never compare myself to anyone else anymore because I stopped caring. I focused my attention on writing, traveling, and work.
A lot of this is just part of growing up, but I don’t think I could have made this change without that friend from fourth grade. She was the one who started this path without even doing anything. If you happen to be a young girl struggling with your appearance, do what you want. Go from wearing no makeup to being a cake-face every day. Who cares? It’s your face! You can do with it whatever you want. Anyone that judges you needs to reevaluate their life.